Starshot Breakthrough Initiative

Leaders

Pete Worden

Pete Worden, Executive Director, Breakthrough Starshot; former Director of NASA Ames Research Center

Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Dr. Worden was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center. He was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. He is a recognized expert on space and science issues and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally. Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics and space sciences. He served as a scientific co-investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the Sun. He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon. Dr. Worden was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium ‘Laboratory Director of the Year’ and is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.

Avi Loeb

Avi Loeb, Chairman, Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee; Harvard University

Avi Loeb is a theoretical physicist who has written over 500 scientific papers and 3 books on astrophysics and cosmology, mainly on the first stars and black holes. TIME magazine selected him as one of the 25 most influential people in space. Loeb serves as the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, where he serves as chair of the Harvard Astronomy department, director of the Institute for Theory & Computation and director of the Black Hole Initiative. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics, and a member of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies.

Jim Benford

Jim Benford, Microwave Sciences

Jim Benford is president of Microwave Sciences. He develops high-power microwave systems from conceptual designs to hardware. His interests include microwave source physics, electromagnetic power beaming for space propulsion, experimental intense particle beams and plasma physics.

Steven Chu

Steven Chu, Nobel Prize winner, Stanford University.

Dr. Chu was the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy from January 2009 until the end of April 2013. As the first scientist to hold a Cabinet position and the longest serving Energy Secretary, he recruited outstanding scientists and engineers into the Department of Energy. He began several initiatives including ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy), the Energy Innovation Hubs, the U.S. – China Clean Energy Research Centers (CERC), and was tasked by President Obama to assist BP in stopping the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. Prior to his cabinet post, he was director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Professor of Physics and Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. Previously he was the Theodore and Francis Geballe Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University, and head of the Quantum Electronics Research Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Dr. Chu has numerous awards including the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for the laser cooling and atom trapping, shared with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Phillips. He holds 26 honorary degrees and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academia Sinica, and is a foreign member of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology.

Bruce Draine

Bruce Draine, Princeton University

Dr. Draine's research involves the study of the interstellar medium, especially interstellar dust, photodissociation regions, shock waves and the physical optics of nanostructures. In 2004 he won the Dannie Heinemann Prize for Astrophysics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ann Druyan

Ann Druyan, Cosmos Studios

Ann Druyan is an American author and producer specializing in science communication. She was the Creative Director of NASA's Voyager Interstellar Message and a co-writer of the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Carl Sagan (1934–1996), whom she married in 1981. She was an executive producer and writer of the follow-up series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, for which she won the Emmy and Peabody awards.

Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson, Princeton Institute of Advanced Study

Freeman Dyson is an American theoretical physicist and mathematician, known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. He is professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, a Visitor of Ralston College, and a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Lou Friedman

Lou Friedman, Planetary Society, JPL

Lou Friedman is an American astronautics engineer, space spokesperson and noted author. He was a co-founder of The Planetary Society with Carl Sagan and Bruce C. Murray, and is now Executive Director Emeritus. He led Advanced Projects at JPL including development of solar sails, missions to Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, comets and asteroids, and he was the leader of the Mars Program after the Viking Mission. He is currently consulting on NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission. He co-led studies of that mission and of Exploring the Interstellar Medium at the Keck Institute for Space Studies.

Robert Fugate

Robert Fugate, Arctelum, LLC, New Mexico Tech

Dr. Fugate conducts a research program on atmospheric propagation physics, atmospheric compensation using laser guide star adaptive optics. Dr Fugate’s research program also includes the development of sensors, instrumentation and mount control of large-aperture, ground-based telescopes.

Giancarlo Genta

Giancarlo Genta, Polytechnic University of Turin

Giancarlo Genta’s areas of professional interest include vibration, vehicle design, magnetic bearings, and rotordynamics. He has written or co-authored more than 50 articles in professional publications and 21 books. He has published extensively in the field of SETI research.

Olivier Guyon

Olivier Guyon, University of Arizona

Dr. Guyon designs space and ground-based astronomical instrumentation that aid the search for exoplanets outside the solar system. He is an expert in high contrast imaging techniques (coronagraphy, extreme adaptive optics) for directly imaging and studying exoplanets.

Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison, 100 Year Starship

Dr. Mae C. Jemison leads 100 Year Starship, a multifaceted global initiative to realize all the capabilities required for human interstellar travel beyond our solar system to another star within the next 100 years. Jemison was a NASA astronaut for six years and the world’s first woman of color in space. She is committed to applying space exploration advances to enhancing life on Earth, and draws upon her background as a physician, engineer, inventor, environmental studies professor, science literacy advocate, development worker in Africa, and founder of two tech start-ups.

Pete Klupar

Pete Klupar, Director of Engineering, Breakthrough Starshot; former Director of Engineering, NASA Ames Research Center

Pete Klupar is interested in low cost, high technology efforts with an emphasis on space systems. He has developed and launched more than 50 spacecraft missions. He has spent time in industry, helping to grow a spacecraft startup from 4 employees to over 500. He has also worked in large organizations such as Boeing and Space Systems Loral. He has been involved in government space and aviation programs, most recently at NASA Ames as the director of Engineering. He has been instrumental in reducing the cost of high technology missions, developing several Faster Better Cheaper and Operationally Responsive Space efforts.

Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss, Arizona State University

Lawrence Krauss is director of the Origins Project at ASU and Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Physics Department at Arizona State University. He has won numerous international awards for both his research and his efforts to improve the public understanding of science, he is the only physicist to have received the top awards from all 3 US Physics Societies, and is also the author of 9 books including bestsellers The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing. He is a commentator and essayist for newspapers and appears regularly on radio and television and has recently delved into the film world as executive producer and subject of The Unbelievers, a documentary film that discusses science and reason. He also is chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and on the board of the Federation of American Scientists. His new book The Greatest Story Ever Told…So Far will be released in the spring of 2017.

Jeff Kuhn

Jeff Kuhn, University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy

Jeff Kuhn is a senior Humboldt prize winner and Sloan fellow. He's a professor at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy and was its Maui director for a decade. His PhD is in Physics (from Princeton) but he works often in astrophysical problems and on unusual optical and Infrared telescopes and detector systems. Some of his ideas are at the heart of telescopes like the Giant Magellan and the Daniel K. Innouye Solar Telescope.

Geoff Landis

Geoff Landis, SA Glenn Research Center

Geoff Landis is an American scientist, working on planetary exploration, interstellar propulsion, and advanced technology for space missions. Landis holds nine patents, primarily in the field of improvements to solar cells and photovoltaic devices, and has given presentations and commentary on the possibilities for interstellar travel and construction of bases on the Moon, Mars, and Venus. He is a fellow of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts.

Kelvin Long

Kelvin Long, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society

Kelvin Long is a physicist, author and the executive director of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies. He has worked in the aerospace sector for around fifteen years and he specializes in the subject of interstellar flight, with an emphasis on advanced propulsion concepts.

Phil Lubin

Philip Lubin, University of California, Santa Barbara

Philip Lubin is Professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara, with research interests in experimental cosmology, cosmic background radiation (spectrum, anisotropy and polarization), satellite, balloon-born and ground-based studies of the early universe, fundamental limits of detection, directed energy systems, and infrared and far-infrared astrophysics.

Greg Matloff

Greg Matloff, New York City College of Technology

Greg Matloff is an emeritus professor at the NYC College of Technology. He is an expert in deep space propulsion. Matloff is a fellow of the British interplanetary Society, a Hayden Associate at the American Museum of Natural History and a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. His pioneering research in solar-sail technology has been utilized by NASA in plans for extra-solar probes as well as in consideration of technologies to divert Earth-threatening asteroids. He served as guest professor at the University of Siena, Italy.

Claire Max

Claire Max, University of California, Santa Cruz

Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and the Director of the University of California Observatories. Max is best known for her contributions to laser guide star adaptive optics as a technique for reducing the optical distortions of images taken through the turbulent atmosphere. This work began at the JASON group, which she joined in 1983 as its first female member. With her colleagues in JASON, she developed the idea of using an artificial laser guide star tuned to the yellow light emitted by sodium atoms to correct astronomical images. In addition to continuing to develop this technology at the Center for Adaptive Optics, she now uses adaptive optics on the world's largest optical telescopes to study the fate of supermassive black holes in the cores of colliding gas-rich galaxies. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and winner of the American Astronomical Society's Weber Prize in Instrumentation, Princeton University's James Madison Medal and the Department of Energy's E. O. Lawrence award.

Kaya Nobuyuki

Kaya Nobuyuki, Kobe University

Kaya Nobuyuki is vice dean of the graduate school of engineering at Kobe University in Japan. Noboyuki has performed numerous space and ground demonstrations. He and an international team from Japan and the European Space Agency successfully tested microwave beam control for an SPS using an ISAS sounding rocket and three daughter satellites deploying a large web: this was known as the “Furoshiki” experiment. He also played a central role in the demonstration of key solar-powered wireless transmission as part of the Orbital Power Plant.

Kevin Parkin

Kevin Parkin, Parkin Research

Dr. Kevin Parkin is a British-born scientist who is best known for inventing the Microwave Thermal Rocket. In 2005, he was awarded the Korolev Medal by the Russian Federation of Astronautics and Cosmonautics. In 2007, Dr. Parkin founded the Mission Design Center at NASA Ames and developed its software architecture, having previously created the ICEMaker software used for spacecraft design by Team-X at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and several other organizations. From 2012-2014 he was the Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer of a project that built the first millimeter-wave powered thermal rocket and launched it.

Mason Peck

Mason Peck, Cornell University

Peck's academic research focuses on technology development for low-cost space missions, particularly in the areas of propulsion, navigation, and control. He is the former NASA Chief Technologist. He has worked closely with the US Aerospace industry for over 20 years, having held engineering positions at Boeing and Honeywell, and having served as a consultant in space technology. Peck has published articles on microscale spacecraft, next-generation propulsion, low-power space robotics and spaceflight dynamics. He is the co-author of three books on planetary exploration and spacecraft mechanisms.

Saul Perlmutter

Saul Perlmutter, Nobel Prize winner, Breakthrough Prize winner, UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Saul Perlmutter is an American astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Perlmutter shared the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics with Brian P. Schmidt and Adam Riess, for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

Martin Rees

Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

Lord Martin Rees is a British cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge from 2004 to 2012 and President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010. Aside from expanding his scientific interests, Rees has written and spoken extensively about the problems and challenges of the 21st century, and the interfaces between science, ethics and politics. He is a member of the Board of the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, the IPPR, the Oxford Martin School and the Gates Cambridge Trust. He co-founded the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Future of Life Institute. Lord Rees has worked on gamma-ray bursts and on how the "cosmic dark ages" ended when the first stars formed. Lord Rees is an author of books on astronomy and science intended for the public, and gives many public lectures and broadcasts.

Roald  Sagdeev

Roald Sagdeev, University of Maryland

Roald Sagdeev is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. in 1966 from Moscow State University. He previously served for 15 years as Director of the Space Research Institute, the Moscow-based center of the Russian space exploration program, where he currently holds the title of Director Emeritus. Prior to his work with the Soviet space exploration program, he had a distinguished career in nuclear science, gaining international recognition for his work on the behavior of hot plasma and controlled thermonuclear fusion. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy, the Max Planck Society and the International Academy of Aeronautics.

Ed Turner

Ed Turner, Princeton University, NAOJ

Ed Turner is Professor of Astrophysics at Princeton University. Turner has worked extensively in both theoretical and observational astrophysics, and has published more than 200 research papers on topics including binary galaxies, groups of galaxies, large-scale structure, dark matter, quasar populations, gravitational lensing, the cosmic x-ray background, the cosmological constant, exoplanets and astrobiology – frequently, in all of these areas, with an emphasis on statistical analyses. His recent teaching activities at Princeton include courses in cosmology, in astrobiology and in media coverage of science, and he has been a member of the University’s Committee for Statistical Studies since 1992.